Read the Community Novel: Chapter 9 by Carrie Cummings

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Kevin: Hello? Where are you, Kate? Do you think I want to hang out at McD’s alone?
Kevin: This is not the time to be late! We have too much work to talk about.
Kate: I can’t make it.
Kevin: What? What’s up? Please elaborate.
Kate: Not sure.
Kevin: ?? I said please…
Kate: I think someone’s watching me.
Kevin: You aren’t seeing ghosts are you? Did you take those stories to heart?
Kevin: Kate…?
Kate: I’m at the office.
Kevin: Can you IM? Texting like this is a pain. I have my laptop.

K8: OK. I went into the office this morning to do more work on the manuscript, but I feel like someone is watching me.
K8: Two people have been sitting in a car outside the building since right after I got here.
ITGuy: What kind of car?
K8: I don’t know! A green one.
ITGuy: The FBI guys?
K8: No, I don’t think so. I can see the license plate. It has Mickey mouse on it. Ugh.
ITGuy: You shouldn’t leave by yourself.
K8: No joke, genius. I’m not going anywhere when I’m safe inside the office.
ITGuy: Safe for now, I suppose. Ok, stay put and keep the doors locked.
ITGuy: And call 911 if anything seems weird.
ITGuy: Don’t answer the phone either. Maybe they don’t know you are in there.
K8: Damn it, you do not need to tell me what to do. I slapped Serge when he tried that in Amsterdam.
ITGuy: Serge? You slapped him? He sounds like a jerk.
K8: Well, no, he isn’t really. He’s a great guy. But sometimes great guys still cross the line.
ITGuy: You still have his number.
K8: Yes, we’ve established that. I have his number. I have lots of numbers.
ITGuy: Were you close?
ITGuy: I mean, was it serious?
K8: Why are we talking about Serge??
ITGuy: We’re not! We should be working.
K8: Okay, so what’s up?
K8: How was the trash pickup?
ITGuy: Dirty. Disgusting.
ITGuy: Oh, and I almost got hit by a car.
K8: Are you sure?
ITGuy: LOL. Am I sure?? Yes, I’m sure.
K8: Well, are you okay?
ITGuy: Yeah, the trash guy, Parker, pulled me out of the way. It was close.
ITGuy: They wanted to call the police, but nothing really happened.
K8: You think it was a coincidence?
K8: Just a bad driver?
ITGuy: Yeah, probably. I mean… I think so.
ITGuy: I don’t know.
K8: I have a really bad feeling about this. Men watching me at the office
K8: And not in the good way, where they are just appreciating my sassy style.
K8: You getting run over.
ITGuy: Almost run over.
K8: I’m glad you’re ok, Kevin.
ITGuy: Thanks. Me too.
K8: Hey! I found something interesting in the manuscript. Well, actually I found some of it on the internet.
ITGuy: What does THAT mean? It’s on the internet already?
K8: Not exactly. Some of the writing in Evelyn’s manuscript was really awkward, so I typed certain sentences into google to see if I got any hits.
K8: And then I did.
ITGuy: What did you find??
K8: Like when the hero is making the speech to the students and says “It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, “Always do what you are afraid to do.”” — well, that is actually a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
ITGuy: I think you read this manuscript too closely.
K8: And when the hero is talking to those two girls and says “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.” – that one is an Arthur C. Clarke quote.
ITGuy: Why is he talking to girls?
K8: And that bizarre scene in the story when the hero goes to the gym and his personal trainer says “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” – it turns out that is really a quote from Aristotle.
ITGuy: Personal trainer? What?
K8: You’re missing the point, Kevin.
ITGuy: Ok, what’s the point, Kate?
K8: Why would Evelyn fill her manuscript with unattributed motivational quotes?
ITGuy: I think she had one of those “quote-a-day” calendars on her desk…
K8: Are you serious? She was just putting random quotes in her novel?
ITGuy: Well… her hero is Kevin Adolfson and that isn’t too subtle.
K8: True. So why is everyone jumping on this manuscript like it’s a bomb? It’s more like a joke.
ITGuy: Who knew she was writing it? Besides the FBI…
ITGuy
: Why would the FBI want this crazy thing anyway?
K8: What do you know about Evelyn? I only talked to her before I flew out here, I haven’t even met her.
ITGuy: She was, I don’t know, old. Well, my parent’s age.
ITGuy: Mom worked with her in the county Register of Deeds department. Maybe she knows her story.
K8: Yeah, she could know some deep dark secret! What’s your mom’s number?
ITGuy: What? No! I can talk to her.
K8: Yeah, but will you find out anything? You don’t always get to the point.
K8: And it’s hard to pry when you’re talking to a parent. I should do it.
ITGuy: Fine, fine. You do it. I’m sure she’ll just spill the beans to you.
ITGuy
: Just stay on topic. No personal questions.
K8
: Speaking of deep dark secrets…
K8
: What are you worried your mom will tell me?
ITGuy
: Nothing! Let’s try to focus.
ITGuy: I was only in Evelyn’s office occasionally. She had a couple of obsessions.
K8
: Which were…?
ITGuy
: Local authors.
ITGuy: And Disney.
ITGuy
: Specifically Disney things you can wear on your head.
ITGuy: Mickey mouse hats.
ITGuy: Stocking cap with Pluto ears.
ITGuy: The Disney castle as a giant crown.
ITGuy: Minnie’s hair bow.
ITGuy
: LOL. She had this hat… helmet… thing that looked like Epcot center in the place of honor in her office.
ITGuy: She was a nut and for some reason she liked this crazy town.
K8: Crazy town? That’s what I call Orlando.
ITGuy: Ok, enough about Evelyn. How about work?
K8
: Ok, work.  Topeka is Awesome. You have any ideas?
K8
: I’ll try to listen and not just knock them down.
ITGuy
: I might deserve that.
K8
: You do.
ITGuy
: Ok, I do.
ITGuy
: Actually, I did have some ideas this morning.
K8
: Yes! What?
ITGuy
: Well, really it was more of a potential awesomeness.
K8: Not convincing me here. Try harder.
ITGuy: What if it’s not that Topeka is Awesome and people haven’t noticed…
ITGuy
: it’s that Topeka could be Awesome, if only people would make an effort.
K8
: o…k… What does that mean?
ITGuy
: Well, I met these people this morning.
ITGuy
: They picked up trash with me. And they’ve done it before.
K8
: Eww. Ok. So?
ITGuy
: Parker and his wife and her sisters. And Travis, Parker’s dad.
ITGuy
: They were nice. And normal.
ITGuy
: And they seemed to care. It wasn’t just punishment for them.
ITGuy
: Actually, I think they were picking up trash because they wanted to.
ITGuy
: I don’t know anyone who does that.
K8
: Well, they exist, I guess. I didn’t know many people who cared in Orlando either.
ITGuy
: But maybe there are more people like Parker’s family who care about this town and we can all help it be better through volunteering and recycling and…
K8
: Hmm. It isn’t very marketable.
ITGuy
: Oh. Yeah, I guess not.
K8
: Was there another idea?
ITGuy
: The zoo!
ITGuy
: Have you been to the zoo yet?
ITGuy
: You know, hippos, rainforest, big cats…
ITGuy
: They started this great photography contest last year…
ITGuy
: They have kid’s nights AND adult-only nights…
ITGuy
: You don’t like this? Do you?
ITGuy
: Are you there?
K8
: One sec. phone.
ITGuy
: I TOLD YOU NOT TO ANSWER!
K8: Shhh
ITGuy
: How can my typing be distracting you?
ITGuy: Are you okay?
ITGuy: Should I call for help?
ITGuy: I’M COMING DOWN THERE. GIVE ME 10 MINUTES.
K8
: Chill.
K8
: It was Evelyn. On my cell.
ITGuy
: Holy Frack.
K8
: She said it’s not about the manuscript.
ITGuy
: What did she say EXACTLY!?!?
K8: “It’s not about the manuscript.”
ITGuy
: What?
ITGuy
: Why was she fired?
ITGuy
: Where is she?
ITGuy
: Why is the FBI involved?
ITGuy
: Why is she calling you?
ITGuy
: Wait. Did she tell you why Topeka is Awesome?
ITGuy
: What did she say??
K8
: Actually, she needs a favor.
ITGuy
: Uh, no!
ITGuy
: This whole thing is crazy.
K8
: Also, you are out of control.
ITGuy
: I already got her stupid project dumped on me
ITGuy
: And the FBI following me!
ITGuy
: Wait, she said I’m out of control?
K8
: LOL, no, that was me.
ITGuy
: Why should I do her any favors?
K8
: First off, it’s OUR project, not yours
K8
: And secondly, she asked me, not you
K8
: and thirdly, she said please.
K8
: She wants us to organize a trail run through the city
K8
: You know, like a 5K race.
ITGuy
: That’s her idea of a favor?
ITGuy
: I’m not doing it. WE aren’t doing it.
K8
: On June 16th. It’s a Saturday.
ITGuy
: No, I said no!
K8
: Well, I haven’t decided yet. This might be a good thing.
K8
: Maybe she’s helping us.
ITGuy
: Why June 16th?
K8
: Not sure. She said it should be morning.
K8
: The First Annual Topeka Trail Run! It looks really good on the poster in my head.
ITGuy
: Can you even have a trail run IN the city?
K8
: Sure! I think so. The path can go by some of the awesome sights of Topeka.
K8
: You have those, right?
ITGuy
: Yes, I suppose we do.
K8
: Then it can be part of Topeka is Awesome!!
ITGuy
: Maybe. I’m only saying maybe.
ITGuy
: Moving on.
ITGuy
: I need to eat.
K8
: My advice? Get the number 1.
K8
: I’m headed home, too. The coast looks clear.
ITGuy
: You sure? I can still come over there.
K8
: I’m a big girl and no one’s out there. I’m fine.
ITGuy
: Hey, as your boss, I think you should take the afternoon off.
K8
: It’s Saturday. I was planning on it.
ITGuy
: Uh. See you Monday then.

Download and print Chapter 9 by Carrie Cummings (7 page .pdf)
Keep reading! Chapter 10 by George Feliu

About the Author

I live in Topeka with a corgi, two cats, and my husband. I don’t particularly aspire to writing novels although writing poetry, short stories and capturing moments on paper have been a constant throughout my life. You can usually find me playing with spinning wheels or learning a new craft when not working at the library.